Tea and Sympathy – by Jocemum
Rating: Exceeds Expectations Minus
The Basics: Half-Blood Prince Era, Action/Adventure/Angst, 110k
Warnings: Seventh Year
The most important thing to know about this fic is that it is a wonderfully written, excellent fic, but it barely qualifies as SSHG. If not for that fact, I would have ranked it higher.
After the death of Albus Dumbledore at the hands of the traitor Severus Snape, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and Harry Potter search for the Horcruxes from their home base at Hogwarts. Hermione has a great secret she must keep from the Order and her best friends…she is secretly working with the traitorous Potions Master, and believes he is still on their side.
This, like many fics before it, absolutely delighted me for the first third or so. Snape is largely absent, because he is a ‘traitor’ and spends his time with the Death Eaters. ‘How exciting,’ I thought. ‘This will be such a delicious slow burn!’ Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The romance became physical way too early, seemingly out of the blue. I just can’t believe that a highly disciplined, paranoid, double agent spy can lose control in a moment of passion with an 18 year old he’s had a handful of meetings with. It’s just absurd. If the romance blossoms because one of them loses physical control – which I don’t think really works for this pairing – it has to be because they are spending bucketloads of time together and have become very close emotionally. That is not the case here. It just happens. I actually groaned out loud in dismay when that bubble of rising tension burst prematurely.
However, the saving grace is that the warplot is beautifully told. The Hogwarts crew are well-written and in character, as are the Order members. The action and adventure was the highlight of the fic. It was amazing how much the authors ‘got right’ pre Deathly Hallows. They had really done their research – from the locket in Kreacher’s nest, locket to Hufflepuff’s cup, even Nagini. Maybe they added those in after the release of Deathly Hallows? I would have the check the dates. I kept reading all of the way through the story, mostly eagerly, despite the absence of Snape and my annoyances with the romance. An excellent warplot, indeed.
I will say, as a negative, that many of the characters are hot-headed and childish. It’s always the Hogwarts students, and usually Gryffindors, so it might have been a deliberate choice by the authors. Still, it’s difficult to sympathize with characters who are making impulsive decisions and screaming at each other in caps. I always skim ahead, frustrated and bored, when that happens.
Gold star to the Draco in this fic. He had the best storyline of anyone, although it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. A letter he writes near the end is my favorite Draco moment of all time. I laughed hysterically and even read it out loud to my husband.
Honestly, you might just read the first chapter as a one-off and leave it at that. The first chapter is the best romance (and the biggest Snape appearance) of the whole damn thing.
The bottom line: This is an excellent fic, but Snape is barely in it, and when he is, he is often out of character (no enough self control, not enough hiding of emotions.) If you are in the mood for romance, I’d recommend something else, but this is a great read if you feel like a fantastic Hogwarts Horcrux adventure with a dash of barely believable SSHG.